ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

What can I do about dusty hay?

Posted December 14, 2006

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Click here to send it to Jeff.

Dear Jeff,

I cut my grass hay and it stays out for about three days. I bale it after the dew dries. It's got dust in it. What do I need to do?

Buck Woodard

Dear Buck,

Thanks for the email and the good hay question. Trust me—you’re not the only one who has put up dusty hay. More than likely the hay wasn’t as dry as you thought when you baled it. Even grass hay needs to be tedded and turned to dry its top, bottom and middle before baling. Three days of good sun should be enough time to dry grass, however if there is clover or alfalfa mixed in—or even broadleaf weeds—be sure the hay is good and dry before you bale it, or dust molds will form. Once it’s moldy or dusty, there isn’t much you can do to improve it. You can feed it to beef animals if it isn’t too bad, use it for mulch on the garden or return it to a field as a good carbon source. Be sure to avoid feeding it to dairy cows or horses, which could develop health problems from it.